NEBRASKA -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that an outbreak of salmonella is being caused by acquiring and handling small turtles in the home. 

Federal law prohibits the sale of small turtles because they cause salmonella. Unfortunately, these creatures are for sale illegally in some small businesses and on the Internet. The CDC recommends against these purchases or buying any reptiles less than 10 centimeters in length.

CDC officials note that children are the most affected. 

“This doesn't go just for turtles or tortoises, this goes for any animal," said James Schreiner, owner of Aquatic & Reptile Store in Ralston. "As babies, they're more susceptible to infections. Not only turtles, but any small animal can also carry many infections, whether respiratory or eye."

"Remember that small turtles are not a gift or a toy for children," explained Schreiner, who is also a reptile expert. He recommends against them for kids under five years old or those with weakened immune systems.

“Make sure if they're interacting with turtles and tortoises, any type of reptile make sure they have a guardian, parent or present because this is how injuries happen,” Schreiner said. "I'm not just talking about the child," he said the reptile can get hurt or traumatized if mishandled. 

Salmonella presents with diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and dizziness.

“Salmonella is a big deal with turtles and tortoises, and guess what? There is a very simple way to fix this: wash your hands," Schreiner said.

Salmonella is a concern with turtles or tortoises, but the simple and effective way is to wash your hands with soap and water immediately after touching or feeding turtles.